Jose Andres offers a simple solution to help combat fridge food waste, interview

Jose Andres for Hellmann's photo provided by Hellmann's, photo credit Elizabeth Lippmann
Jose Andres for Hellmann's photo provided by Hellmann's, photo credit Elizabeth Lippmann /

While Jose Andres is a celebrated chef and restaurateur, he is more than a man with infinite culinary creativity. Over the years, he has become a strong leader for various social issues. From boots on the ground with World Central Kitchen to championing the restaurant industry in times of need, Andres is never afraid to push the conversation in the right direction. Now, through his partnership with Hellmann’s, Jose Andres is imploring everyone to rethink the food in their refrigerator.

How many times have you opened the doors, stared at the shelves and declared, there’s no food to be eaten. Even though the refrigerator is seemingly crammed to the brim with options, it is all a blur.

In addition, the back of the fridge seems to be that black hole where food disappears. Even though you know that you just bought grapes a few days ago or there is a head of lettuce somewhere, the reality is that seeing food versus looking for it can be two different things.

How is Jose Andres and Hellmann’s encouraging families to be Fridge Hunters?

Recently, Andres and Hellmann’s have created a program that implores families to think differently about the food in their home, and in turn, reduce food waste. According to Hellmann’s, “40% of all food waste in the U.S. happens at home.” While many people joke about that rotating bagged salad, that number reflects more than just one food item. In reality, the food wasted can be prevented if families change their perspective.

As part of this partnership, my recent conversation with Chef Andres revealed that the food waste issue can no longer be overlooked. While families might want to start with the idea of consumption, itself, the reality is that finding creative solutions for the food already in the house is not just being frugal, it is being thoughtful.

Jose Andres for Hellmann's
Jose Andres for Hellmann’s photo provided by Hellmann’s, photo credit Elizabeth Lippmann /

Chef Andres spoke poignantly about his mother’s use of re-purposing ingredients. While those flavorful croquettes were a treat, that recipe held more in each delicious bite. It was a way that his mother used other ingredients around the house.

That food ingenuity wasn’t given a special label at that time. Instead, it was just the way of doing things. His mother always had the best dishes, which were made even more special because she never let food go to waste. Whether the idea was both conscious and unconscious, that idea of being judicious with food purchased and money spent is a lesson worth revisiting.

How do Jose Andres and Hellmann’s educate people on making every bite count?

While this Fridge Hunting campaign has an element of entertainment to it, the concept has a far great impact than just the opportunity to interact with a celebrated chef. As Chef Andres said, at the heart of the campaign is educating people about the concept that “every bite counts.”

Even though an avocado might not be the visually pristine image on that social media feed or advertisement, it doesn’t mean that the food is no longer viable. From mashing it into a salad or incorporating it into another recipe, the slight bruise is forgotten and the flavor makes a lasting impression.

As Chef Andres said, people can create a better world one dish at a time. It might seem like a lofty goal or an overly simplistic statement, but it is rooted in reality. A little culinary creativity in the kitchen has benefits.

While Chef Andres shared that he uses this re-purposing concept always, it is an idea that others can easily adapt. Beyond enjoying leftovers for lunch, it is rethinking how people use food. That concept is the heart of this campaign.

Beyond rescuing the food from the deep recessed of the fridge, people can see how to use ingredients in other ways. That leftover tomato vinegar at the bottom of the salad doesn’t need to go down the drain. It can be the most flavorful part of another dish.

For anyone willing to join Chef Jose Andres and Hellmann’s on this journey, post that experience on Instagram or TikTok using #fridgehunters,#sweepstakes, and tagging @Hellmannsmayonnaise. While some lucky winners will get a once in a lifetime opportunity with Chef Andres, everyone will receive a gift that lasts much longer than just one fridge hunting session.

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As Chef Andres said, the kitchen is the place that brings the biggest happiness. Isn’t it time to foster those positive moments and create a world of change one dish at a time?